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Venetia Gonzales Photo courtesy of NASA or National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Employee continues life of ‘Firsts’ with Stennis work

Venetia Gonzales had never been to NASA’s Stennis Space Center prior to landing a job at the site. After all, she grew up in Simi Valley, California, a considerable distance from the coast of south Mississippi.

She did not even visit Stennis when applying for the job – her hiring interview was conducted via Skype when Gonzales was working as a civil servant in Hawaii. The interview went well, and Gonzales joined the Strategic Integration and Communications Office with the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) at Stennis in 2012.

As a communications specialist, Gonzales is at the forefront of telling the NASA and NSSC story. She is responsible for developing communication plans and strategies and for disseminating information about NSSC services to customers and stakeholders.

She has been featured on several agency websites, highlighted through the Latina Women@NASA and NASA@Work platforms. She also was recognized for her submission to the “Explore as One” Video Challenge, which asked NASA employees to share their vision for the agency in the next 60 years. In her video, Gonzales imagined an agency that had discovers signs of ancient life on Mars, uses artificial intelligence to explore the solar system and beyond, builds lunar stations that allow people to vacation on the Moon and makes life-changing advances regarding the weather and environment.

Gonzales also serves as a Stennis Special Emphasis Program manager for the Hispanic program at Stennis, helping the site focus on groups that historically have been absent or underrepresented in the federal workplace.

As a special emphasis manager, Gonzales works with the NSSC Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office and the sitewide Diversity Council to plan various programs and activities that promote and advance equal employment opportunity, workplace diversity and inclusion.

Gonzales understands the importance of such efforts to open doors and opportunities for others. She has been a trailblazer in her own right. Joining NASA was yet another in a string of “first” achievement for Gonzales. Before arriving at Stennis, the Bay St. Louis resident was the first in her immediate family to graduate high school, receive a college degree and serve in the military (as a member of the U.S. Navy for eight years). Later this year, she will add to the list by receiving a master’s degree in strategic communication from Michigan State University.

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